Jürgen Knoblich

Scientific Director (interim)

Jürgen Knoblich is a developmental neurobiologist who focuses on the development of the human brain. His group has developed cerebral organoids, three-dimensional tissue cultures resembling the fetal human brain, and uses this in vitro system to study neurodevelopmental disorders like epilepsy and autism.


Jürgen Knoblich obtained his PhD at the Max Planck Institute in Tübingen. He worked for three years at the University of California in San Francisco before he became a group leader at the IMP in 1997. In 2004, he joined IMBA as a senior scientist and became deputy director in 2005. Jürgen Knoblich has received several awards such as the Wittgenstein Prize, the Schroedinger Award, and the FEBS Anniversary Award, as well as two ERC Advanced Research Grants. He is a member of the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO), the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, the Academia Europaea and the Austrian Academy of Sciences. He acts on the Scientific Review Board of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Board of Directors of the International Society for Stem Cell Research and the editorial boards of Current Opinion in Cell Biology and the Journal of Cell Biology.

Business Director

Markus Kiess joined IMBA as Business Director in 2020 in addition to the administrative direction of the GMI that he is managing since 2009.   Prior to this, he was Business Unit Head for Infectious Diseases, Transplantation & Immunology, and management board member at Novartis Pharma Schweiz AG in Berne, Switzerland.  Markus Kiess has a science background, holding a PhD degree in Molecular Biology and bringing several years of research experience in biotechnology and cancer biology with positions at ETH Zurich, the Institute for Neuropathology at University Hospital of Zurich, Switzerland, and the Department of Molecular and Cellular Pathology, University of Toronto, Canada. In addition, he has extensive business expertise, having completed advanced business training at both Harvard University and the St Gallen Business School.

Markus Kiess

Josef Penninger, Founding Director of IMBA

Josef Penninger

Founding Director 2002 - 2018

Josef Penninger, MD was formerly a lead researcher at the Amgen Research Institute in Toronto. In 2002 he accepted the appointment as founding director of the newly established Institute of Molecular Biotechnology (IMBA) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna, Austria. Major achievements include pioneering insights into the molecular basis of osteoporosis and breast cancer, as well as the study of metastatic spread. His group has also developed the first haploid embryonic stem cells for functional genetics.  Josef Penninger’s major awards include the Descartes Prize, the Wittgenstein Prize of the Austrian Federal Government, the Ernst Jung Prize for medical excellence, an AAAS Award the Innovator Award from Era of Hope/DOD and a second ERC Advanced grant.

Representatives of the Austrian Academy of Sciences

Heinz Faßmann

President of the Austrian Academy of Sciences

Ulrike Diebold

Vice President of the Austrian Academy of Sciences

Steering Committee

IMBA and IMP operate as a joint initiative of the Austrian Academy of Science and Boehringer Ingelheim. For managing general and strategic issues of the cooperation a steering committee was established consisting of high-level representatives from every organisation involved.

IMBA - Institute of Molecular Biotechnology, Vienna, Austria

  • Markus Kiess
  • Jürgen Knoblich

Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW), Vienna, Austria

  • Heinz Faßmann

Boehringer Ingelheim

  • Michel Pairet, Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH, Ingelheim, Germany
  • Phillipp von Lattorff , Boehringer Ingelheim Regional Centers Vienna, Austria

IMP - Research Institute of Molecular Pathology, Vienna, Austria

  • Harald Isemann
  • Jan Michael Peters
  • Meinrad Busslinger